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'No benefit' from hydroxychloroquine for virus: U.K. trial – CTV News

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A major British clinical trial has found hydroxychloroquine has “no benefit” for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, scientists said Friday, in the first large-scale study to provide results for a drug at the centre of political and scientific controversy.

Hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug, has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including U.S. President Donald Trump, and has been included in several randomised clinical trials.

The University of Oxford’s Recovery trial, the biggest of these so far to come forward with findings, said that it would now stop recruiting patients to be given hydroxychloroquine “with immediate effect”. 

“Our conclusion is that this treatment does not reduce the risk of dying from COVID among hospital patients and that clearly has a significant importance for the way patients are treated, not only in the UK, but all around the world,” said Martin Landray, an Oxford professor of medicine and epidemiology who co-leads the study. 

The randomised clinical trial — considered the gold standard for clinical investigation — has recruited a total of 11,000 patients from 175 hospitals in the UK to test a range of potential treatments. 

Other drugs continuing to be tested include: the combination of HIV antivirals Lopinavir and Ritonavir; a low dose of the steroid Dexamethasone, typically used to reduce inflammation; antibiotic Azithromycin; and the anti inflammatory drug Tocilizumab.

Researchers are also testing convalescent plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19, which contains antibodies to fight the virus.

Researchers said 1,542 patients were randomly assigned to hydroxychloroquine and compared with 3,132 patients given standard hospital care alone. 

They found “no significant difference” in mortality after 28 days between the two groups, and no evidence that treatment with the drug shortens the amount of time spent in hospital.

“This is a really important result, at last providing unequivocal evidence that hydroxychloroquine is of no value in treatment of patients hospitalised with COVID-19,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor at Imperial College London, in reaction to the results.

He added that the drug was “quite toxic” so halting the trials would be of benefit to patients.  

Hydroxychloroquine has been in use for years but it has a number of potentially serious side effects, including heart arrhythmia. 

‘IT DOESN’T WORK’

Researchers from the Recovery trial said they would share their data with the World Health Organization (WHO), which on Wednesday restarted its own trials of hydroxychloroquine.

They were temporarily halted last month because of a now-retracted observational study in The Lancet medical journal that had suggested hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related compound, were ineffective against COVID-19 and even increased the risk of death.

Authors of the Lancet research said on Thursday that they could no longer vouch for the integrity of its underlying data, in the face of serious concerns raised by fellow scientists over a lack of clarity about the countries and hospitals that contributed patient information.   

The scandal cast a shadow over The Lancet and another top medical journal, but it did nothing to clear up the increasingly politicised question of whether or not hydroxychloroquine works as a treatment for COVID-19. 

Openshaw said the Recovery trial should be credited with continuing the research until they could reach a definitive conclusion on hydroxychloroquine. 

“Everyone regrets that it doesn’t work, but knowing that allows us to focus on finding drugs that actually help recovery from COVID-19,” he added. 

Oxford professor Peter Horby, the lead investigator on the Recovery Trial, said there was probably a “very large number” of people around the world taking hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, with countries including the U.S., China and Brazil authorising it. 

A separate clinical trial on Wednesday in the U.S. and Canada found that taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not work to prevent infection significantly better than a placebo.

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8 new coronavirus cases identified in Ottawa on Monday – Globalnews.ca

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Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) novel coronavirus case tally rose by eight on Monday as the city’s streak of days without a death related to the virus hit double digits.

The local public health unit says it’s identified 2,118 lab-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ottawa since the pandemic was first declared in mid-March.

There are currently 54 active cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Ottawa, but 85 per cent of previously identified cases are now marked resolved.

Read more:
Ottawa, surrounding regions make indoor masks mandatory as of Tuesday

Three people are currently in hospital with the disease.

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Some 263 people in the city have died as a result of COVID-19 — that figure has remained unchanged for the past 10 days.

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OPH also said Monday the outbreak at the Peter D. Clark long-term care facility ended on July 4, which marked at least 14 days since a resident or staff member last tested positive for the virus.

The outbreak at the city-run long-term care home was first declared on April 28. There were 45 coronavirus cases linked to the Peter D. Clark outbreak, with eight residents dying as a result of complications from COVID-19.

Staff at the home are now starting to schedule outdoor visits between residents and family members.

There is now only one Ottawa institution currently facing an outbreak: the Rideau building at the Perley & Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre.

Eleven people have tested positive for the virus at the long-term care home’s Rideau facility, with one resident dying in connection to COVID-19.






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Coronavirus: Ontario health minister says there’s ‘hope’ for move to stage 3 soon


Coronavirus: Ontario health minister says there’s ‘hope’ for move to stage 3 soon

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hundreds of Scientists Warn COVID-19 Is Airborne, And WHO Needs to Act – ScienceAlert

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As countries ease their lockdowns, authorities need to recognize the coronavirus can spread through the air far beyond the two meters (six feet) urged in social distancing guidelines, an international group of 239 scientists said Monday.

In a comment piece that takes direct aim at the World Health Organization (WHO) for its reluctance to update its advice, researchers recommended new measures including increasing indoor ventilation, installing high-grade air filters and UV lamps, and preventing overcrowding in buildings and transport.

“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room scale),” wrote the authors, led by Lidia Morawska of the Queensland University of Technology.

“Hand washing and social distancing are appropriate, but in our view, insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory microdroplets released into the air by infected people.”

The new paper appears in the Oxford Academic journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they expel droplets of various sizes.

Those above five to ten micrometers – which is less than the width of a typical human head hair – fall to the ground in seconds and within a meter or two.

Droplets under this size can become suspended in the air in what is called an “aerosol,” remaining aloft for several hours and traveling up to tens of meters.

There has been a debate in the scientific community about how infectious microdroplets are in the context of COVID-19.

For the time being the WHO advises that the potential for infection from an aerosol occurs “in specific circumstances” mainly in hospitals, for example when a tube is placed down a patient’s airway.

On the other hand, some studies of particular spreading events suggest that aerosolization and microdroplet transmission can happen in a variety of settings.

The air flow from an air conditioning unit appeared to waft the coronavirus to several tables in a Chinese restaurant in January where patrons became infected, according to a study that appeared in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Another study that appeared in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the virus was spread by microdroplets from people singing during a choir practice in Washington state in March.

Fifty-three people fell ill at that event and two died.

That is in addition to the fact that bars jam-packed with people have also emerged as hotspots of contagion, with droplets of all sizes believed to contribute to the spread.

Cath Noakes, a professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, who contributed to the paper, said COVID-19 doesn’t spread in the air as easily as measles or tuberculosis, but is a threat nonetheless.

“COVID-19 is more likely to be ‘opportunistically’ airborne and therefore poses a risk to people who are in the same room for long periods of time,” she added.

The WHO advice is out of step with both the US CDC and its European counterpart.

“We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,” the WHO said in response to the new commentary.

Precautionary principle

The authors recognized that the evidence for microdroplet transmission was “admittedly incomplete,” but argued that the evidence for large droplets and surface transmission was also incomplete yet still formed the basis for health guidelines.

“Following the precautionary principle, we must address every potentially important pathway to slow the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote.

Put another way, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” said Julian Tang, an associate professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester who contributed to the commentary.

“The WHO say that there is insufficient evidence to prove aerosol/airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is happening. We are arguing that there is insufficient proof that aerosol/airborne transmission does not occur,” he said.

© Agence France-Presse

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Ottawa business owner won't ask workers to enforce mask rules – CBC.ca

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The owner of an Ottawa coffee chain says mandatory mask rules announced by four public health units on Monday could place significant pressure on employees to enforce the new policy, but not at his shops.

Henry Assad, owner of Happy Goat Coffee, said his employees will instead be asked to “politely request, but not to enforce,” the new mask rules intended to protect residents against the spread of COVID-19. 

“If the customer is not willing to oblige or is not willing to actually voluntarily put the mask on, I think we’ll have to leave it at that,” said Assad, while speaking with All In a Day host Alan Neal on Monday. 

“I definitely will not ask my employees to ask people to get out of the establishment or to force them to wear one,” he said. “That will not be our recommendations, at least for the time being.”

Henry Assad, owner of the Happy Goat Coffee chain, says employees won’t be told to enforce new mandatory mask rules. Instead, employees will be instructed to politely ask that customers wear masks. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

According to the new indoor mask rules, business owners, as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, are required to adopt a policy to make sure customers aren’t inside businesses without a mask that covers the nose, mouth and chin. 

Speaking at a Monday media conference, Ottawa Public Health medical officer of health Vera Etches said the onus will be on businesses to establish a mask policy, train staff and post visible signs about the new rules. 

However, Etches said “we do not expect them to be the police.” 

Exceptions to the mandatory mask rule apply to young children, as well as customers unable to safely wear a mask due to pre-existing medical conditions.

Businesses could face fines ranging from $500 to $800 for non compliance.

‘A lot of concern’ around rule

Ryan Mallough, Ontario provincial affairs director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said his organization has heard “a lot of concern” from businesses in areas where mandatory mask rules exist. 

Ryan Mallough, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says he hopes bylaw officers and health officials enforce new mandatory mask rules fairly. (Sameer Chhabra/CBC)

He’s also hearing from businesses who understand that the rules are designed to protect against COVID-19, he said. 

“Absolutely no one wants to see us get into second-wave territory or a situation where businesses are going to be shut down again,” Mallough said. “And if mandatory masks [are] going to help us get there, that is good.”

Mallough says there’s a lack of clarity about how the mask rules will be enforced in communities across Ontario.

“For example, if you’ve got a customer that is outright refusing to wear a mask, you’re supposed to deny them entry. But if they’re already in your store, what exactly is the business owner expected to do?” asked Mallough.

“Are they supposed to kindly ask them to leave? And if they refuse, is there going to be a number to call or are they expected to sort of escort them outside the premises?”

LISTEN | Henry Assad talks about new mandatory mask rules 

Today Ottawa Public Health announced a mandatory mask order for indoor spaces. We talked to the owner of Happy Goat cafe about how this will change or affect the way his employees work. 10:37

He added that exemptions made for customers with pre-existing medical conditions also creates an element of uncertainty.

“If someone says, ‘Well, I have a respiratory illness, I don’t have to wear a mask’ … [Is] a business owner supposed to inform other customers so they’re comfortable with it?” Mallough said. “What is the onus there?”

Mallough said his organization wants to see mandatory mask rules applied fairly, adding that while it’s on business owners to attempt to implement such policies, bylaw officers and health officials also have roles to play. 

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